Basic California Disturbing the Peace Law Guidelines
California disturbing the peace law covers several public disruptive activities, including loud verbal arguments, challenging another person to fight, unlawful fighting, unreasonable loud noise violations, and the use of offensive words that can provoke a violent and immediate reaction from another person.
California penal code section 415 states that a person has to be in a public place, which is any location that is open to the public like a sidewalk, shopping mall, parking lot, or a department store.
In every variation of a disturbing the peace offense, the prosecutor must prove each element of the crime. For instance, to prove that a person disturbed the peace by fighting or challenging another person to fight, a prosecutor must prove that the individual unlawfully fought or challenged someone to fight in a public place and was not acting in self-defense or defense of others.
California law allows people to reasonably defend themselves or other persons if they have a reasonable belief that they were about to suffer bodily harm. An individual must also reasonably believe that force was the only way to protect them against the harm, and they used no more force than necessary for defense against the danger.
Under California Penal Code Section 415, the legal definition of what it means for noise to disturb another person, the noise requires to have been used maliciously to disturb another person, presented a danger of immediate violence, or used on purpose to disrupt lawful activity.
California law defines disturbing peace with offensive words as a circumstance where a person used words in public that could provoke a violent response from someone, and there was a clear and present danger that the other person would erupt into violence.
California disturbing the peace law categorizes disturbing the peace as a wobbler, meaning that it can be pursued as either a felony or a misdemeanor offense. Disturbing the peace as a felony can lead to up to $250 fine. If convicted of disturbing the peace as a misdemeanor crime, a person can serve up to three months in county jail and up to $400 fine.
A person convicted of disturbing the peace on school grounds under California law could serve a maximum 90-day sentence in county jail and a maximum fine of $400.